By Crystal Chung @CrystalKChung

THE OLDEST and deepest freshwater lake in the world freezes over with ice cracks hundred of yard long

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Baikal is the largest freshwater lake in the world by volume and is also said to be the world's oldest and deepest

Surrounded by mile-high snowcapped mountains, Lake Baikal in south-eastern Siberia offers views of unmatched beauty. The lake is 25 million years old and 1,700 metres deep, making it the oldest and deepest freshwater lake in the world.

Although the cracks are often hundreds of yards long, temperatures are so cold that the lake is completely safe to stand on

Shot by intrepid photojournalist Anton Petrus in March 2016, the following series of breathtaking images show exactly why Lake Baikal has become one of the most visited lakes in the world.

He said: “The legendary lake is the deepest lake on Earth and in winter it becomes one complete piece of ice.

The incredible splits stretching across the lake are caused by compression and expansion in the ice brought on by temperature variations

“It was spectacular to see the lake covered with the world famous transparent cracked ice, ice drifts and ice grottos."

The breathtaking images show exactly why Lake Baikal has become one of the most visited lakes in the world

Baikal is home to thousands of species of plants and animals, many of which exist nowhere else in the world. The lake was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 and is also home to Buryat tribes who reside on the eastern side of the lake.

Petrus said: “It was spectacular to see the lake covered with the world famous transparent cracked ice, ice drifts and ice grottos.”

The 30-year-old photojournalist drove for six hours from the city of Irkutsk to capture the striking photos, which show hundreds of large cracks in the ice set against the rising sun making the scene appear otherworldly.

The lake was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 and is also home to Buryat tribes

Anton said: “It is not difficult to come and enjoy the scenery in Baikal but the main condition is not to be afraid of frost and be able to stand firmly on slippery ice.

 

The lake is home to many unique species of animals and plants including the freshwater seal

“I had been dreaming for a long time to see winter in Baikal. And when I saw it I started to come here every year.”

There are 27 islands in Lake Baikal with most of them being uninhabited

Known as the 'Galapagos of Russia', its age and isolation have produced one of the world's richest and most unusual freshwater faunas.

According to UNESCO Lake Baikal is the oldest lake in the world at 25 million years old

Known as the 'Galapagos of Russia', its age and isolation have produced one of the world's richest and most unusual freshwater faunas.

The 30-year-old photojournalist drove for 6 hours from the city of Irkutsk to capture the incredible images

Anton said: “‘Photographing cracks like these don’t seem real and seeing it was like seeing something from another world, it’s what keeps drawing me back in year after year.”